(Random) Start: Dustin Kensrue - Blanket of Ghosts

This random start, which is not random at all, is selected for a recent death in family. My grandmother passed away earlier this week. 

My grandma was a stubborn, heart-on-sleeve, good-cooking, strong Italian woman. She loved her family more than she loved anything else, mostly because her life was hard and there wasn’t all that much to love about it. She was forced to marry at a young age in order move away from terror of World War 2. Winnipeg, Manitoba became her new home. She separated from the forced marriage and met my grandpa soon after. My mother and uncle came into the picture not too long after.

A few years pass and I’m old enough to be in elementary school. My grandfather passes away, leaving her to live all by herself in a small cottage on Lake Winnipeg. The winters are devastating. The nearest grocery store is a 30 minutes walk. The closest relatives she had were 20 miles away. She lived alone like this for almost 20 years.

Towards the tail end of her life, I would visit her once a summer right before the folk festival. It was nice to catch up to her. She always offered a pepsi and a warm hug. It was comforting to smell the musky scent scent her cottage had to offer with a slight bread like aroma. She had a thick Italian accent that was tough to understand sometimes but it was still an Italian accent that I wish I had. I usually left with a sad embrace and money she forced into my pocket. Right before I would leave, she would tell me how much it sucks living the way she lived. She was brutally honest. She was “unlucky”, she often said. She hated the way her cards were dealt except when she got to see her family. And that’s all she really cared about. To see me happy. To see my sisters happy. To see my mother happy most of all. And my mother is a fantastic mother and an even better human being because of my grandma. So don’t worry grandma, you have something to be happy about.

It’s comforting to hear songs about heaven the way Kensrue writes about it, whether I struggle with the concept of it or not. I’m certain if there is a heaven, Grandma Colacino received a warm welcome and a pepsi.

Random Start: John K. Samson - Maryland Bridge

I’ve been listening to the Weakerthans and John Samson for years now but it just took me until now to realize bands like Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms are stealing Samson’s deadpan, awkward style of singing. I don’t think they can ever compare to Samson’s intelligent writing or cat loving but it’s fun to listen to the similar style of voice. 

Random Start: No Knife - Angel Bomb

I’m a huge fan of Thrice (if you’ve followed for awhile, you’re probably like - MENTION IT ONE MORE TIME BRIAN. JUST ONE MORE TIME). But I’ve heard the guys from Thrice talk about No Knife more than a few times so I went on a limb and purchased this album without listening to it. I’m not disappointed with the decision. 

Beer Time!

Centennial IPA

Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan

American IPA - 7.2% ABV


Tis the day that’ll go down in history as the day I had my first Founders. And now I know exactly why people love this brewery this much. Holy smokes, this is one of the best tasting IPAs that a normal midwesterner could have. I could describe the complexity of the beer for you but why would I when I can leave it for the recurring section up next.

What The Hell Did I Just Read? - Pretentious Reviewer Excerpt

Aroma of draft IPA, hop leaf and malts, and grapefruit. Simple, citrus juicy. Not astringent rather fruit, melon, juicy fruit gum. Some lace. Initially very large head. A nice smooth drink. Easy mouthfeel, body on the light side. Very very drinkable.

A Canadian on beeradvocate.com

I don’t remember tasting the juicy fruit gum in the beer but now that he mentions it, I’m going to have to go buy 80 thousands more of these to see. 

Random Start: The Front Bottoms - I Swear To God The Devil Made Me Do It

I’m on all board with the Front Bottoms. I just haven’t listened to them all that much so I don’t have too much to say. Their video when they kill Kevin Devine is one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve had in recent years though. 

Random Start: The National - Son

And this is the moment Random Start notifies me I have The National’s self-titled sitting around in my album and I had no idea I owned it. Whoops.

Random Start: Langhorne Slim & the Law - The Way We Move

Langhorne has control over the audience unlike anyone I’ve seen. And it’s been twice so far. Once, I saw him in a shitty little dive bar. The other time was in a festival audience with hundreds upon hundreds dancing around me. The man was made to do this line of work. He’s eccentric but it works for him without coming off as hokey.


The Muddy Imperial Stout

Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Illinois

Imperial Stout - 9.00% ABV

I hate licorice and I still tried this. Imperials, on the other hand, are wonderful drinks with enough alcohol to make you warm and fuzzy after one drink. Prior to the first taste, the hope was to have a hint of licorice for a nice, sweet aftertaste but hooooodoggy, I was wrong.

What The Hell Did I Just Read? - Pretentious Reviewer Excerpt

Appearance: Pours black with a thin brown head. Decent lacing.

Smell: Roasted malt, hints of coffee, licorice. Something seems a little bit off - the licorice clashes a bit with the roasted malt backbone.

Taste: Licorice is even more aggressive here and really takes the forefront, with chocolate and roasted barley breaking in later. Again, I feel like the licorice is taking away from the rest of the beer. Finish is pretty sweet. Not much alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel: Full body is accentuated by the sticky sweetness. Pretty heavy on the palate. Medium carbonation.

Random reviewer from Illinois on beeradvocate.com

Aggressive licorice

Random Start: Bruce Springsteen - My Best Wasn’t Good Enough

What a fitting random start since I’m wearing my “The Only Boss I Listen To” Bruce Springsteen shirt and it was his birthday yesterday! It’s a bit of a silly song but I love it. 


Squatters Hop Rising

Utah Brewers Cooperative, Salt Lake City, Utah

Imperial IPA - 9.00% ABV

I did a “choose your own six pack” at Happy Harry’s. I made the most of it by grabbing a couple of these in cans since the pack only cost 9.99. I feel like I’m cheating the system by grabbing multiple imperials but hey, I’m only human with the keen surrounding of good deals. The Hop Rising is a very good imperial IPA too so I’m feeling good about life.

What The Hell Did I Just Read? - Pretentious Reviewer Excerpt

Very nice as a pale ale. Neutral aroma, medium golden colour with one and a quarter inch head, lacey. A good bitterness, big in-mouth hops, like a double pale ale, rather than a double india pale ale. Citrus taste and well malted; Caramel and a decent mouthfeel. Very drinkable and satisfying.

Someone from Ontario on beeradvocate.com

This was my 3rd beer down from Squatters and I’m impressed. I’ll try to dig deeper into their catalog soon.